Category Archives: Potty

Chicago meetup, assorted, and potty regressions

Chicago meetup this Sunday at 2 pm at the Bean in Millennium Park.

Things are starting to come together in my apartment and for BlogHer. A friend designed cards for me, which are being shipped to my hotel. Now if i can only find a cat-feeder before tomorrow morning…

Curious minds want to know about the apartment: I'm not sure how big it is (maybe 900 sq feet), but it's a two-bedroom, so the boys are still sharing a room, but this one is huge. And I have counter space in the kitchen, which is amazing. The last apartment had barely any.  And it just has a better vibe in general, and no creepy memories. Lots of sunlight.

Today's question is about potty-training regressions. I've gotten a few email questions in the weeks before the move (and from other friends) about kids who potty train and then after a few days or a week regress.

I think there are two distinct situations. One is with younger kids (2-3 years old) who train. It seems like regressions in kids that age are the result of learning the new physical and emotional skill. They do relaly well when they first start doing it, but then get a little fatigued from the concentration and may have a relapse. It's normal and not anything to worry about. Just carry on the same way you did during potty training, and clean up any accidents while still affirming that the child can do it and this is just an exception.

The other situation is when kids who train at an older age (over 3 or so) potty train and then stop wanting to use the potty. This, to me, seems like a more emotional issue. The kids might have issues with being "big" and want to test to see if they can still be a baby. Or it might be a form of rebelion against something else.

This seems to be a little trickier to deal with, since you don't want to turn it into a control game. The goal, I think, is to make using the toilet just a given, with no emotional importance whatsoever. So if an older child regresses, if you can, just keep on as if of course the child is going to keep using the toilet. No emotional response, just staying the course with using the toilet.

What do you all think? Have you been through it? My kids both did the small physical regressions because they both trained before they were 3. How have people dealt with the regression/refusal in older kids?

Q&A: “forced” potty training

Jenny writes:

"My son just turned 2last week.  He goes to daycare 3 days a week, which he seems to enjoy (not
as much as time with Mommy, but Mommy's got help bring home the bacon).  He
is transitioning from the "Toddler I" class to "Toddler II."  He spends
half his day in the first class, then half his day in the second.  In a
couple weeks, he'll be in the 2nd class all day.  My problem is with the
way they handle potty training in the second class.  They make the effort
to help each kid sit on the little potty a few times a day.  They say they
are just trying to get the kids used to the idea of the potty, learn what their
body does, learn what the toilet does, etc.  They still leave a diaper on
them all day, though.  While that all sounds fine and dandy, I have no
intention of trying to get my son potty trained in the next few months.  I
feel like I'm supposed to be reinforcing this behavior at home, but I just don't
want to do it yet.  He's not showing any of the signs that he's interested
or ready, and from what I hear about boys, if you start when they're 2, it's
going to take you until they're 3-ish anyway.  (I know, all kids are
different, but I just know he's not ready yet, and I have no desire to worry
about this for a really long time unnecessarily.)

Is it ok to just let
the day care people do what they're going to do, and ignore it at home for a
while?  I don't want him getting confused, but I also don't want to force
the issue when he's not interested yet.

Thanks!  I hope
to get a little insight from you and other Moxie readers!"

Mmmmm….bacon. Have you all tried my Bacon-Brown Sugar Coffeecake recipe?


I think that as long as they're not forcing the kids or putting any pressure on them, it's fine. They probably do all kinds of stuff with the kids that you don't do at home, and he's learned that school has one set of rules and expectations and that home has another set.

Also, and I know you didn't ask this because you already know it, but it's totally fine for you not to hop on the potty-training wagon on someone else's schedule. You know your kid and what he's ready for. It's possible that he will end up trained from what they're doing in school, but probably not. (If he does, my bet is that it will be the influence of peer pressure, not the sitting-on-the-potty stuff itself.)

But the bottom line is that I don't think he'll get confused, any more than he gets confused by the difference in his routine during the week and on weekends. So just nod and smile about all of it, and do what you're going to do anyway.

Has anyone else ignored potty training at home while a child was going through the motions at school? How did it go?

Q& no A: One child has to go to the bathroom and the other doesn’t

A situation that confounded me for a certain period of time, and is now plaguing an anonymous reader. I'll paraphrase (because the letter was very detailed):

"What do you do when you're out and your older child has to go to the bathroom but you're with a younger child, too?

I pack up the younger child with all his stuff and haul him along with us to the bathroom (and sometimes I can't even fit the stroller in the bathroom, depending on where we are). That's the best-case scenario. The other scenario is that the bathroom need comes on us so suddenly that I have no time to give a warning so the younger child freaks out and starts screaming and flailing not to stop playing and won't calm down when I say we're coming right back, so I can barely haul a kicking child with all of our crap to the bathroom and help my older one go."

I remember this, and it was my nightmare every single time it happened. My only real help is that eventually the younger one may be able to be convinced that when the older one goes, he should try to go, too. (One of my guiding principles of life is that when given the chance to use the toilet, one should. I'm passing that along to my kids, so they remind each other of it, and if one needs to go, the other one will try, too.)

What do/did you guys do? Is there some magic trick I completely missed? It's all the factors combined–the suddenness of the need in the older one, the resistance to change in the younger one, plus all the crap you have to haul around with two kids–that makes it so difficult.

Or do we all just grin and bear it until the kids are older?

Q&A: pooping only in diaper

Jillian writes:

"N (boy) is 3 years old and toilet trained for pee and 'diaper trained'for poo. That is, he can control when he poos, but refuses to do it in
the toilet. He holds it until he's in bed for nap or the night (the
only time he gets a diaper) and then lets loose. I've tried every form
of incentive and they don't work. He's done it a couple of times in the
toilet for chocolate, a cupcake AND 'toilet fairy' stickers (yes, all
at once!) but he's back to doing it in the diaper. He has a
fearful reaction to the idea of sitting on the toilet for poo combined
with that 3-year old need for control. I can't even make him do it in
the diaper in the bathroom – he has to be in his bedroom. I'm not
pushing the issue because I don't want him to get constipated but
changing a 3 year old's poopy diaper is getting old fast. Quite
frankly, it's gross.

Would love to hear from anyone who's been there, done that."

I have no idea. I wish I did, but as I say every time we have a potty learning question, both my boys trained themselves, and I was just kind of the facilitator (and my babysitter B, too, with the second one). So I really have no secrets or much to offer on this.

So I'm tossing it out to the readers, and hoping someone's been through this and has some words of advice for Jillian. I agree that it seems counterproductive to try to force it. Would it help to have N shadow another kid who poops in the toilet so he'd be encourage by peer pressure? It sounds like rewards aren't working. Anything else anyone can suggest?

Q&A: bloody, mucusy stools

Rachel's got a question that's stumping me:

"My daughter is almost 5 months old and has had frequent bloody andmucusy stools on and off since she was about 6 weeks old. She is
exclusively breastfed.  Our pediatrician initially said it was dairy
and soy protein from my diet, so I cut those out. It seemed to make no
difference. I then cut out wheat, then eggs, until eventually the "top
8" allergens were out of my diet. Still no improvement. My pediatrician
says to wait it out, and since my daughter is gaining weight, seems
happy, and is meeting developmental milestones I shouldn't worry. I
just don't feel right about this, and since we are creeping up on
solids introduction age I really want to figure it out.  Do you have
any suggestions? We are so at the end of our ropes here."

Yeah, I just can't imagine that having blood and mucus in your poop is something that should just be ignored, so I'm kind of shocked that your pediatrician is telling you not to worry. Something is definitely not right.

You've dealt with the most obvious things: dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, etc.

Is this ringing a bell with anyone? I'm trying to think backwards through what I'd suggest if it were an adult suffering from blood and mucus in the stool, but I'm not getting anywhere with that in my head, either.

Was your daughter ever given antibiotics? That's the only thing that's jumping immediately to mind.

Please jump in with ideas if this is sounding familiar to anyone.

Q&A: pooping in her sleep

Carole writes:

"Is there any way I can engineer my 9 1/2 month old baby's diet toreduce the likelihood of us waking up to her in a messy diaper?

We sleep trained her about a month ago (and it's AMAZING, happy happy
girl she is now that she's well rested), and have her on a pretty
solid schedule, but when we go in to her at 7am she's been poopy for
the last three mornings.  She generally poops twice a day.

I breastfeed her at 7pm, 7am and 1am.  She gets formula at 2:30 when
I'm at work, breastmilk when I'm home.  She's a big eater, and loves
everything, curry, mildly spiced thai food, fish, tofu, whatever we're
having for dinner.  Should I make her evening meal more grains and
less meat or fiber?  Are there any suggestions for helping avoid
making her sit in poop?  (Other than going in to her every time she
wakes up and cries for a minute?  She's usually back asleep again
within 5 minutes.)"

See, this is yet another situation in which my Trained Monkey Assistants would come in handy. (I've had this idea for years that I should open a ranch where we train monkeys to do things for tired parents like pop back in dropped pacifiers in the middle of the night, wash out sippy cups of milk, match baby socks, etc. Changing middle-of-the-night poop diapers would be a great job for the TMA. Then my friend who actually works in primate research had to shatter my dream by telling me she thinks monkeys would mostly be ill-suited for this job temperament-wise. Easy come, easy go, I guess.)

I think you have two options: 1) Experiment with stuffing her full of binding foods (like rice and Veggie Booty) a few hours before bed, or 2) Wait it out until her pooping pattern changes on its own.

Feeding her binding foods could do the trick, or it could have no effect whatsoever. There's really no way to tell. And I guess it's also possible that you could end up going too far and constipating her for a day or two until you work the balance back out. But, if you are the kind of person who likes to be actively working on a problem, then you might as well try it and see what happens.

The real truth is that it's going to stop eventually, because as her eating and movement changes her pooping is going to change, too. So you could just cut to the chase and wait it out. If you're feeling particularly tired or worn out, that's certainly going to be the best option. But if you want to work on the problem, try messing around with her food, and it may ease things more quickly, or eventually she'll just stop pooping at night on her own.

If she were older, I'd tell you to teach her to yell out "poop"or some special sign when she's actually pooped, so you'd know it was that and not just that little night-waking thing some kids do. At this age, she could probably learn a hand sign for poop, but that doesn't help any of you in the middle of the night.

Any suggestions to help Carole get to her daughter when she's pooped, without having to go in for every little peep? Did anyone else go through a night-time pooping stage with a baby this old?

Potty training when you can’t control all the variables

It seems like the parenting zeitgeist is all about potty training lately. I got three questions on the same day about potty training last week, and have been thinking about it a lot myself lately because my son will be three in May and isn’t out of diapers. Then yesterday I spent the afternoon with my BFF and her husband and son, who is almost three and still not completely potty-trained.

As long-time readers know, my older son pretty much potty-trained himself. He started wanting to try it at 16 months and was just really into all things potty. He’d be our bathroom attendant and hand us the toilet paper, stop to observe dogs pooping and peeing on the street, and watch the Bear in the Big Blue House "Potty Time" DVD on a continuous loop. He was in underpants by 27 months during the day, and by 32 months at night.

So I’ve got nothing, because I didn’t really do much of anything other than go with his interests.

The younger one is more of a challenge, though. His personality is completely different, and he really isn’t convinced there are any benefits to being in underpants. Plus I’m at work all day now, so I don’t have the same ability to control the situation on a micro level. And it’s harder to just leave him in underpants all day and not worry about accidents, since we have to leave the house more to work around his older brother’s school schedule.

We’ve talked here about potty training several times in the past few years, and as usual you guys have been a font of information and experience. I’d like to open up another discussion about it, but pick your brains for ideas about training a non-only child who is at the whim of an older child’s schedule, and also for training a child (who isn’t so sure about it) when there’s a childcare issue involved.


Q&A: pooping to avoid napping

Happy New Year!

Heather writes:

"I am not sure if this is a problem others have run into or not, but my
10 month old daughter has been pooping a lot lately either 20-30
minutes in her naps or right after I put her down she wakes up and
poops, thereby ending the nap. This is a typical day all of a
sudden: 20 mins into a nap I hear her babbling away in her crib, not
crying and wait and wait thinking she’ll fall asleep, because she
*must* be tired, right? Well, 45 minutes go by and I finally decide to
go check on her and the smell of poop hits me the second I walk into
the room.  I couldn’t sleep with poop in my pants either, so I feel bad
and change her diaper.  By this point, she is in no frame of mind to go
back to sleep so we go downstairs and play until she seems tired enough
to try again.  We go through the whole routine, I nurse her to sleep,
plop her into the crib, close the door gently behind me and I hear,
"bah? bah! mamamama!" and it starts all over.  I check 10 mins later
and she pooped again!  This has been going on consistently for three
days now.  Is she doing this on purpose?  Could she possibly have
control over her bowels and be avoiding naps? I should mention she has
a very solid routine and normally takes two 1 hr 20min long naps on the
2-3-4 schedule that you sometimes talk about.  Oh, and she usually
poops *after* she naps or when she wakes up in the morning.  So, this
is totally out of character for her, but becoming a new routine that I
feel I can count on, unfortunately."

I feel bad laughing, but that was my first reaction, because I’m a 12-year-old boy sometimes.

I think the pooping has more to do with the nursing than with the napping. Many many many babies poop after they nurse, and it sounds like something about her digestive pattern has changed to make her poop shortly after nursing. (Why do the baby books not tell you that your kid’s poop patterns often change right after a growth or digestive spurt? Both of my kids were like clockwork, with a new pooping pattern after the 3-week, 6-week, 3-month, and 6-month growth spurts. It’s totally normal, but I get a surprising number of emails from people who are concerned when their kids go from 6 times a day to once a day, or something like that, and you’d think one of the big-name doctors would have thought to put that down.)

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if part of the big 8-9-month sleep regression had something to do with digestion, or if the increased movement around this age changed pooping patterns, or something like that.

Anyway, the point is that I think the trick is going to be to figure out how to get her to poop either before she nurses down, get her to nurse and poop and then fall asleep, or some other possibility.

You’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place, because the whole point of nursing her down is that it always works like a charm, and why mess with something that works so well? But if she only goes down but doesn’t stay down, then your beautiful system isn’t working so well anyway.

In your shoes, I’d do pretty much whatever I had to to figure out how not to stop the nursing to sleep (having had a child who would not nurse down for naps and one who did, I really think nursing down makes everything so much easier for everyone because it’s pretty much a guarantee). I wonder if you could mess around with the solids you’re feeding her to see if you could get her to eat some poop-inducers at non-nap times to see if that would leave her without anything to poop out during naps. Raisins, pureed prunes, and squash were big poop-producers in my apartment. (Also, if I drank coffee–even decaf–and then nursed, both my boys would poop. Go figure.)

That’s all I can think of, other than trying to get her to stay awake until she poops and then get her down, which makes me feel exhausted even thinking about the logistics. Of. (Some bad grammar for the new year. Did I mention I have some sort of illness that has left me with no voice today? It must be affecting the sentence-writing part of my brain.) OTOH, if you’ve been trying to get out of nursing to sleep for the nap, this is the perfect time to do that.

Any comment help?

Comments, Christmas week, and other crap

First of all, I know there’s something wrong with accessing comments on all the posts from before I switched domain names last Wednesday, and am trying to figure it out with the Typepad people. The comments are all still there, I just don’t know how to get to read them yet, but it will all get straightened out soon.

Second, I’m going to be out of town with very limited internet access next week (December 24-28), so I’m going to set posts to autopost every day that week. But in the spirit of combating the stress of that week, I’m going to put an open post up that stays at the top of the screen, so people can just stop by and comment about whatever they feel, whether they need advice, want to vent, or are just looking for some non-family conversation. If you’re feeling bored or sad or irate or like you could use a little community, please stop by and see what’s up.

Third, we’ve got another disgusting topic today. In the spirit of the vomit conversation from a few weeks back and the pee overflow question of Friday, can we talk about poop explosions and diarrhea? One of my co-workers was out a few days last week because his toddler had the stomach flu and they were just drowning in vomit and diarrhea. OK, maybe I could have used a different verb there. They were overwhelmed by keeping up with the substances coming out of both ends of the little lad. That’s better.

So we’re looking for tips on dealing with diarrhea. While we’re here, we might as well talk about regular old poopsplosions that newborns have.

I’ve pretty much got nothing on diarrhea.

I do know about projectile poop, though, and my biggest tip is to put layers on the child’s butt to catch the poop. That’s one reason I did cloth diapers at the beginning with each of my kids, and not the fancy pocket diapers either. It seems like the extra layers of prefold + cover helps contain the runny newborn poop so much better than a one-layered disposable can, or a pocket diaper that has the effect of a one-layered diaper. The times there was a big poop in a disposable or pocket diaper, the poop got all over the clothes. In a prefold + cover,it all stayed inside the cover.

I’ve even heard of people who use disposables buying PUL (laminated fabric, what modern cloth diaper covers are made of) covers and putting them over the disposables to make that extra layer to protect the clothes.

Another thing I know about is the two kinds of normal poop that can mimic diarrhea. One is runny green poop. Green poop happens when the milk runs through the kid’s system too fast. Sometimes that will happen with a stomach bug (and can continue to be green even after the other symptoms are gone). The other thing that can make green poop is if there’s a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, or the mom has oversupply. The foremilk is the first milk the baby gets, and it’s watery to hydrate the child, plus it has lots of lactose. The hindmilk is the milk that comes at the end of a nursing session, and it’s full of fat to bulk up the child.

If the mother has oversupply, the child gets mostly foremilk and can never drink enough to get the hindmilk, so they have too much lactose in their systems and their poop can be green. (Other symptoms of oversupply are: falling asleep within a few minutes at the breast then waking up ravenous an hour or so later; putting on weight really rapidly; and making little goat baby noises. If your child is doing this, you may have oversupply.)

The other normal poop that can mimic diarrhea is "drool stool"." When a child is teething, s/he produces drool, and lots of it ends up going down the back of the baby’s throat. (If your teething baby has what sounds like a smoker’s cough in the mornings, it’s from the drool down the back of the throat.) It passes through the stomach and will come out in the poop, as slimy long shards of drool. The drool can also make your baby’s poop so acidic you can smell it (eew) and can cause patches on the butt and anus that look almost burned from the acidic drool. (So now your child is in pain in the gums and the butt. Lovely, isn’t it?) Use a non-zinc oxide diaper rash barrier cream (plain old Vaseline or Aquaphor will work well) proactively each time you change a diaper to make a coating to prevent the next poop from touching the skin.

I hope you finished your breakfast before you started reading this morning. Please post your poop-related tips for all to enjoy.